In what is arguably the biggest recruit to land at Cal-Berkeley in two decades, five-star senior forward Ivan Rabb announced on Monday night that he’d be keeping his talents local instead of joining the Arizona Wildcats. Word now is that he’s speaking with the top ranked small forward in the senior class, Jaylen Brown, in hopes of having him also join Golden Bears in the fall.
Ivan Rabb, one of the best high school players in the country, is staying in the Bay Area.
Inside the Oakland restaurant where his mother works, the 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward from Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland announced on Monday night his intention to play for Cal.
“I’m going to the University of Cal-Berkeley,” Rabb said. “I felt the most at home there. It felt like family.
“I haven’t been this happy in a long time, to be honest.”
All afternoon, the Ol’ Yeller Cafe ’N’ Market had no more than three patrons at a time. But when it came time for Rabb’s 7 p.m. announcement,more than 100 friends, family and Cal students filled the eatery. After hearing the news, the crowd cheered and chanted “Cal-i-fornia,” before passing a Cal hat Rabb’s way.
Rabb said the goal for his freshman season is to make the NCAA Tournament, and he brushed aside the assumption that he’s a definite one-and-done player.
“People are questioning me going to Cal just because they didn’t have the best season this last year,” Rabb said. “I’m not going to say I’m the missing piece, but I’m a missing piece to the puzzle. I think if you add me to that program we can do great things.”
The Bears were 18-15 last season — coach Cuonzo Martin’s first in Berkeley — did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive year and declined an invitation to play in a second-tier postseason tournament.
Rabb’s first shot on his college homecourt will be in the same place as his final one in high school: He sank a game-winning free throw with 0.8 of a second left in overtime to lift the Dragons past Mater Dei-Santa Ana in the state Open Division championship game last month.
Rabb’s decision is a recruiting triumph for Martin. A McDonald’s All-American and The Chronicle’s Co-Player of the Year, Rabb averaged 24.5 points, 16.3 rebounds and 4.5 blocks for O’Dowd. He had offers from Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA, among others.